[MUD-Dev] Roleplaying vs Immersion

Miroslav Silovic silovic at zesoi.fer.hr
Sun Jul 30 00:58:26 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

I noticed that there seems to be a lot of confusion between
'roleplaying game' and 'immersive game'. Here's my take on the
differences and their implications.

Immersive game is a game that presents the gameworld to the player in
a consistent way, and makes the player believe that he is really

Roleplaying is the player's activity wherein he acts the role of his
character, and responds to the game world in the way his character
would respond.

In other words, 'immersive game' describes the way game world is
presented to (and perceived by) the players, while 'roleplaying game'
describes the way players respond to the game world.

Now, it's quite possible to be immersed without roleplaying (somebody
mentioned BattleTech MUSHes, and they're perfect examples). It's also
possible, but unusual, to roleplay without immersion - tabletop games,
after all, vary in immersion degree and the overall immersion tends to
be much lower than in MUDs, in my experience (YMMV).

The point of this is: increasing immersion may help roleplaying, but
it's not a condition for it. Also, the measures that increase
roleplaying do not necessarily help the immersion (and sometimes they
interfere with it).

Now, a few measures that increase immersion:
  - remove all OOC communication and police the remaining means of
    communication for OOCness
  - simulate every aspect of the game world
  - withdraw the information that you can't prove the player could
    have obtained

A few measures that increase roleplaying:
  - ask the players to separate IC and OOC communication and the
    information obtained, police for abuses
  - simulate every action a player could possibly do within the game
    world, have staffers ready to serve special requests (because the
    players that have creative ideas and approaches to the problems
    deserve rewards)
  - withdraw the information that you are absolutely sure player could
    not have, ask the players to use common sense for all the rest
    (and naturally, punish abuses).

Obviously, good RPGs don't run themselves.

But the one thing I absolutely, completely hate in a MUD is when the
response to 'my character would do X, and X doesn't require any power
that my character doesn't have' is 'X not implemented'. Ever wanted to
punch a rocket through the wall in Quake?

How to eff the ineffable?

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